It appears that former Liverpool manager and football punditry’s favourite meme-generator Graeme Souness is disappointed that Liverpool has not run riot in the transfer market so far this summer. Consequently, in a column for The Sunday Times today, he laid out his six-point plan for any team looking to break Liverpool’s formidable system next season—though despite his concerns he did still express confidence in the team’s ability to retain the title even if he expects stronger opposition than they faced this year.
Souness also believes that “the perfect time to sign players is when they do not have to be an instant hit but can be gradually introduced”, citing successes like Andy Robertson and Fabinho who were allotted the time and (metaphorical) breathing space to grow into Klopp’s demanding system. His argument is that Liverpool should “strengthen from a position of power” and bring in the likes of Bayern Munich’s talented and hardworking midfielder Thiago Alcantara, thereby emulating the way the top teams operated in the 70s and 80s.
Not surprisingly, this is a tactic that Souness could be said to have deployed when he took over as club manager in 1991, following the successful years of Kenny Dalglish’s first managerial stint. Fans will remember (well not this fan, I was six months old) Souness’s reign for facilitating regular team appearances for soon-to-be Liverpool greats like Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.
However, he will also be remembered for a series of expensive and underwhelming signings such as Dean Saunders and Paul Stewart. Within two seasons of winning the league under Dalglish, Liverpool finished sixth in Souness’s final two seasons as manager (’91-’92 and ’92-’93), kicking off the painful 30-year wait that Jurgen Klopp brought to an end this year.
Which is not to say that Souness’s reading of Liverpool’s current position is wholly inaccurate. With the signing of promising young left-back Kostas Tsimikas being the only concrete business carried out by the club this summer, fans have continued to wonder if this is a deliberate and measured stance by Klopp and Michael Edwards or a slippery slope to complacency.
And despite sparkling pre-season flashes of brilliance from recent signings Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita, as well as youngsters like Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams, the allure of an industrious central midfielder like Thiago is hard to ignore.
With the possible departure of the reliable and oft misunderstood Gini Wijnaldum, a player of Thiago’s footballing lineage, who Souness believes “still has a couple of years, maybe three, at the highest level left in him”, could be the reinforcement we need to counter next season’s threats and retain the title.